Savings key in cash-starved city of Niles

If the cash-strapped city of Niles stands to save nearly $100,000 by outsourcing its Income Tax Department, why isn’t the idea receiving a ringing endorsement from city Treasurer Robert Swauger?

A report released this week by Swauger indicated if the city outsources the department to the Regional Income Tax Agency, or RITA, it could save $71,000 to $98,000.

RITA represents 241 communities throughout Ohio, and the benefit of their service is they have a partnership with the IRS that allows them to historically increase the amount of income tax collected. McDonald, Girard, Campbell and Youngstown already belong to RITA.

Swauger took the time last month to tour RITA’s facility in Brecksville with state auditors and spoke to executives about how the system operates.

Despite all this information, Swauger held back from recommending the move. He instead is calling on city council and Mayor Ralph Infante to review and debate the findings before he makes his recommendation.

Swauger said his reluctance comes from questions about the future of city employees that work in the department.

No one ever wants to see workers lose jobs, but city officials must realize they work for the public, and they must make hard decisions based on that fact.

The city’s financial status calls for drastic measures, and a significant savings of public funds is reason enough to recommend approval of the measure.

If the city is going to make the switch to RITA, it needs to be in place at least six months before tax season. That means Swauger is asking city council to make a decision in the next four to six weeks.

Council must do its due diligence, study the report, weigh the facts and make the right decision that should include using the outsourced service to save the city money.